Mastering Google My Business: A Guide to Handling Negative Reviews

by | Jul 17, 2023 | Marketing

Google reviews, whether we love them or hate them, play a crucial role in consumer research. A bunch of glowing reviews can skyrocket a business, but a single bad review? Ouch, it can wreak havoc on your reputation.

We often receive inquiries from clients concerned about negative reviews they have received, wondering if they can just delete them or even ditch their Google My Business listing altogether.

It’s important to emphasize that in some instances, a negative review may be warranted, and addressing it is essential. But here’s the sneaky truth we marketers know: sometimes, those reviews are fake or, at the very least, unjustified. They could be spam, shady competitors, or someone having a bad day and venting online. No matter the source, once that review is out there, you’ve got to manage it. So, in this blog post, we’re diving into the why behind having a Google My Business listing, the consequences of removing your listing, and, most importantly, how to handle those not-so-great reviews like a pro.

What is a Google My Business Listing, and Why is It Important?

Let’s start by reviewing Google My Business and its importance in marketing. Imagine you’re a local business owner and want people in your area to find you easily.

Google My Business is a free offering from Google that lets you create and manage your business profile, complete with essential details such as address, contact information, operating hours, and photos. When someone searches for a product or service in their area, Google pulls up local listings featuring none other than businesses with a Google My Business account.

If you aim to boost your local presence and capture the attention of your target audience, establishing a Google My Business account is essential. This presents a remarkable opportunity for heightened visibility. Plus, you can collect and showcase customer reviews, share updates, and get insights into how consumers find and interact with your business.

How Do I Create a Google My Business Listing?

  • Sign in or Create an Account: Go to the Google My Business website and sign in using your current Google account or create a new account if you don’t already have one.
  • Add Your Business Details: Click the “Manage now” button and enter the important information about your business, such as its name, address, phone number, and website. To help potential clients find you, make sure your information is current.
  • Verify Your Business: Before your listing goes live, Google will need to confirm that you are the legal owner of the business. Depending on the verification options available in your area, this can be done by a postcard sent to your business address, a phone call, or email verification.
  • Optimize Your Listing: Once your listing has been verified, it is important to optimize it to maximize its effectiveness. Add appealing images of your business and write a compelling business description. Use keywords relevant to your industry and location to boost your exposure in local search results.
  • Keep Your Listing Updated: Your Google My Business listing is now live! Update your listing regularly to keep it accurate and engaging. Encourage your customers to submit reviews, respond quickly to positive and negative reviews, and share company updates such as new products, services, or promotions.

Following these steps will help you build a strong Google My Business listing that will improve your online visibility, attract potential customers, and help you develop a robust online presence.

Someone Left My Business a Negative Review on Google. Now What?

So, you’ve created your Google My Business listing, optimized it, and are managing and updating it regularly, and your business is seeing great results. However, the moment arrives when a negative review or two appears. It’s natural to feel a sense of panic, as we’ve all heard tales of how bad they can be to a business.

But as a marketer, I urge you not to panic but instead take a step back and approach the situation objectively. Ask yourself if the review holds credibility. While you may not necessarily agree with it or appreciate someone airing their grievances online, handling them professionally is vital. Why? Because a well-handled negative review can be a valuable business opportunity. Bad reviews can:

  • Enhance the credibility of your overall review profile. Demonstrating that your business receives both positive and negative feedback shows authenticity and prevents your profile from appearing fake.
  • Offer you a chance to showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction. By addressing concerns, providing explanations, and offering solutions, you demonstrate your dedication to resolving issues and going above and beyond for your customers. And by openly acknowledging the imperfection and sharing the steps you took to rectify the situation; you present a transparent image that resonates with potential customers.

Handling a negative review on Google My Business requires a thoughtful and professional approach. Now that you’ve taken a step back and viewed the negative review objectively, you can move on to managing it. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Respond promptly: Time is of the essence when responding to negative reviews. Aim to reply within 24-48 hours to show that you value customer feedback and actively address concerns.
  • Stay calm and professional: Keep your response professional, courteous, and objective. Maintain a polite tone throughout your response. Avoid getting defensive or confrontational, as this can escalate the situation further. If you don’t have a record of this person’s interaction with the firm, then say so and flag the review.
  • Acknowledge the issue: Begin by expressing appreciation for the customer’s feedback and acknowledging their concerns. Let them know that their experience matters to you.
  • Apologize and take responsibility: Even if you believe the customer’s complaint is unfounded or unjust, it’s important to apologize for their negative experience. Taking responsibility shows that you care about customer satisfaction and are willing to make amends.
  • Offer a solution or explanation: Depending on the situation, propose a solution to address the customer’s concern or provide a reason for what happened. You can ask the customer to contact you offline to discuss the matter further if necessary.
  • Maintain privacy and professionalism: Avoid discussing personal or confidential details in your response. Keep the conversation focused on resolving the issue and providing excellent customer service.
  • Encourage offline communication: Provide contact information or direct the customer to contact you privately, if appropriate. This allows you to address their concerns in a more personalized manner and demonstrate your commitment to resolving the issue.
  • Monitor and follow up: Monitor the review thread to ensure the issue is resolved satisfactorily. Follow up with the customer to confirm their satisfaction or address any further concerns if necessary.

Remember, responding to negative reviews professionally and constructively can help mitigate the impact of the review and show potential customers that you are committed to delivering excellent customer service.

No, You Can’t Just Delete the Negative Review

Only some business owners may have the time or inclination to respond to every negative review they receive, especially when some reviews are spam or unjustified. So, frequently when we marketers advise the business owner to reply nonetheless, they say, “Can’t I just delete it?” Unfortunately, the answer is essentially no. On its website, Google does offer a formal process for reporting reviews and asking for their removal. However, removals are not guaranteed. This is because Google prioritizes maintaining the visibility of both positive and negative reviews to preserve the integrity of the review system. Removing only negative reviews would compromise the platform’s credibility and defeat the whole point of helping people make informed choices.

But You Can Bury It

If you don’t want to respond, what else can you do? One effective strategy is to bury it by collecting more genuine, positive reviews. Gathering a wave of positive feedback can diminish the impact of a lone negative review.

Start by encouraging satisfied customers to leave a review on your Google My Business listing. You can contact them through email campaigns, social media posts, or even a simple request during their visit. Additionally, make it hassle-free for customers to leave reviews by providing direct links or QR codes to your Google review page. Remember, the key is to focus on authenticity and genuine customer experiences. The more positive reviews you accumulate, the less negative reviews will influence your overall reputation.

Can I Delete My Google Business Listing? Yes, But Here’s Why You Shouldn’t!

While it is possible to remove your Google My Business listing, it is generally not recommended due to several important reasons to consider:

  • Limited Online Visibility: Without a Google My Business account, your business might not appear in Google Maps results or local business listings, resulting in reduced online visibility. This means you could miss out on potential customers who rely on local searches to discover businesses like yours.
  • Lack of Control over Business Information: Without a Google My Business account, you relinquish direct control over the accuracy and completeness of your business information displayed on Google. Outdated or incorrect details circulating online can lead to customer confusion or frustration.
  • Inability to Manage Reviews: Google My Business allows you to actively monitor and respond to customer reviews, which is crucial for maintaining a positive online reputation. Without an account, you won’t be able to address customer feedback, resolve issues, or highlight positive experiences, potentially impacting your credibility and customer trust.
  • Missed Marketing Opportunities: Google My Business offers various marketing features, including posting updates, adding photos, and promoting events. Not having an account means you’ll miss opportunities to engage with potential customers and showcase your business’s unique offerings.

It’s crucial to carefully evaluate your circumstances and weigh the potential impact on your business before removing a Google My Business listing. If the listing is causing issues or is outdated, consider updating or optimizing it instead of completely removing it to maintain your online presence and capitalize on its benefits.

Will deleting a Google My Business listing affect SEO?

Do you remember how I told you at the beginning of this article that Google My Business was important in the marketing world and that it presented a remarkable opportunity for heightened visibility? Well, I meant it, so if you go ahead and delete your Google My Business Listing, be prepared to face some unfavorable SEO consequences. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Local Search Visibility: Your visibility in local search results improves if you have a Google My Business listing. When you remove the listing, your company may no longer display in local search results, decreasing your visibility to local clients.
  • Organic Rankings: Google My Business listings frequently help organic rankings, particularly for local intent searches. Removing the listing may impact your organic rankings because your business will be less visible and prominent in local search results.
  • Reviews and Reputation: Customers can post reviews on Google My Business listings, impacting your online reputation. You will lose those reviews if you remove the listing, and potential customers will not be able to see or post new ones. Reviews are essential for creating trust and authenticity, so removing them can harm your SEO efforts.
  • Local Citations: Google My Business listings are a primary data source for local citations, which are mentions of your business on the internet. Removing the listing may result in inconsistencies in your business information across several platforms, harming your local SEO.
  • Local SEO Signals: Google My Business provides critical local SEO signals, including proximity, relevance, and popularity. When you remove a listing, you lose these signals, which might impact your local search rankings.

Google My Business can help your company build a solid online presence and reach your target audience. Its value extends beyond simply providing your business’s information; it’s a way for potential customers to learn about, engage with, and assess your offers. That being said, handling customer reviews, particularly unfavorable ones, can be difficult. Just remember that negative reviews are not the end of the world; promptly and professionally responding to them, demonstrating your dedication to customer satisfaction, and actively managing your online reputation can turn bad reviews into business opportunities. And if you need help, know that we marketers are here to help you every step of the way!

Michelle Allen

Michelle, Equivity’s Assistant Marketing Director, brings over 20 years of marketing experience and holds a degree in International Business. For more insights and updates, connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.

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